The Spanish Coastguard found three stowaways on a ship’s rudder on Monday. The ship — the Malta-flagged Althini II — had just arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria after an 11-day voyage from Lagos, Nigeria.
It’s unknown whether the stowaways spent the entire voyage – 2,700 nautical miles – on the rudder. Upon discovery, they were quickly taken to Las Palmas hospital and treated for dehydration and hypothermia.
A photograph, distributed by the coastguard, shows the stowaways precariously perched, their feet mere inches from the water.
The blade-like rudder, used for steering, is located at a ship’s stern. It is often surrounded by a box-like structure where stowaways may seek cover. Still, fluctuating water levels make such a voyage very dangerous.
According to the Red Cross, last year witnessed 20,000 migrants from the West African coast to the Spanish-owned Canary Islands. Of those, 1,100 died at sea.
This is also not the first time that stowaways have sought a rudder’s refuge. In 2020, four Nigerian stowaways were found above the rudder of a Norwegian oil tanker.
That same year, a 14-year-old boy traveling from Lagos to Gran Canaria told El Pais that he had spent the 15-day journey on the rudder of a fuel tanker.